The Revelation That Ripped The Case Against Adnan Syed To Shreds
By John Popham
October 14, 2022
It has been 23 years since the murder of Hae Min Lee, 22 years since a jury sentenced her ex-boyfriend to life in prison for the crime, and eight years since the Serial podcast brought the case into the public eye.
However, despite the major scrutiny that was raised against the trial and conviction of Adnan Syed, prosecutors had not backed down from their claim that Syed was the person responsible for Lee’s murder. Until this week when Marilyn Mosby, the state’s attorney for Baltimore, Maryland, dropped all charges against Syed.
“I have utilized my power and discretion to dismiss the case. There is no more appeal,” Mosby said during a press conference on Tuesday. “With regards to Adnan Syed, the case is finished.”
This week’s announcement followed a September motion filed by prosecutors requesting Syed’s sentence to be vacated, or canceled, due to the discovery of new evidence. This request was granted by the Baltimore City Circuit Court and Syed was able to be released on house arrest.
But what was this new evidence and how did it come to light? If the Serial podcast and an HBO documentary wasn’t enough to change the city of Baltimore’s mind regarding Lee's murder, then what was?
Leave it to Sarah Koenig to fill us all in. For the first time since 2016 the Serial podcast released an episode about Syed’s case, “S01 Episode 13: Adnan Is Out.” Koenig explains that a law passed in 2020 led to his case being reviewed by the newly formed Sentencing Review Unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office.
Becky Feldman, chief of the Sentencing Review Unit of the Baltimore City State’s Attorney’s Office, was assigned to review the case and immediately felt that something wasn't right. What started out as nothing more than an audit quickly becomes a reinvestigation and uncovered two other suspects that were known to police at the time, but never ruled out.
Specifically, Feldman found handwritten notes from the 1999 investigation that described two phone calls detectives had with a potential witness who heard one of the suspects say he was going to kill Lee. The state investigated and, in its court filing, said they had found the information credible, and it was never turned over to the defense. This is known as a Brady violation and is a breach of the constitutional right of due process.
“They are saying, ‘Back in 1999, we didn’t investigate this case thoroughly enough. We relied on evidence we shouldn’t have, and we broke the rules when we prosecuted,’ ” said Koenig. “This wasn’t an honest conviction.”
Even though Baltimore prosecutors have not yet named the two new suspects, they have released that one of them was connected to where Lee’s car was found. There is also relevant criminal records for both individuals.
“Adnan’s case contains just about every chronic problem our system can cough up,” said Koenig. “Police using questionable interview methods, prosecutors keeping crucial evidence from the defense, slightly junky science, extreme prison sentences, juvenile's treated as adults, and how grindingly difficult it is to get your case back in court after you have been convicted.”
In a blog post on the Serial website on Tuesday, Koenig announced that the podcast would no longer be covering Syed’s story, or Lee’s now unsolved murder. You can still go back and listen to season one’s full coverage of the case, as well as their new investigations on the iHeartRadio app or wherever you listen to podcasts.
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